- Adrian LeBaron, 59, called for ‘wild-west style volunteer militias’ after his daughter and four grandkids were killed by Mexican cartel hitman
- Rhonita Miller, 30 and four of her seven children were among the nine killed in a sudden massacre in the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico
- LeBaron said these groups would defend civilians against future cartel attacks in the area
- He said he does not trust the Mexican government because many officials have been bought out by cartels
- LeBaron has lobbied in front of U.S. and Mexican officials to designate the cartels as terrorist groups
- LeBaron and his wife arrived to the scene hours before Mexican law enforcement – who took 24 hours to respond to the attack
- They collected evidence like shell casings and sifted through the debris
A father whose daughter and three grandchildren were killed by gang members in a massacre in Mexico last month wants to start ‘wild-west style volunteer militias’ to combat the drug cartels.
Nine women and children were shot at close range before their SUVs were set on fire during the attack in the Sierra Madre mountains in November.
Now, Adrian LeBaron, 59, has recalled the moment he and his wife, Shalom, began receiving calls from desperate family members that his daughter, Rhonita Miller, and four grandchildren had been killed.
Wearing rubber gloves in an effort to preserve vital evidence at the crime scene, LeBaron began the distressing task of sifting through the ashes of his daughter’s scorched SUV.
LeBaron and Shalom choked back tears as they sifted through pieces of their loved ones bones, took pictures of what remained of their family and collected shell casings from AR-15 and M-16 assault riffles.
Miller, 30 had been shot several times before dying with four of her seven children inside the car.
LeBaron found the bones of his 10-year-old granddaughter, Krystal, who had been so frightened she knelt into the fetal position before she was fatally shot.
Howard, 12, was also killed, and 8-month-old twins Titus and Tiana, the youngest victims, were most likely burned alive.
LeBaron said: ‘When we picked up those shells so close to the car, we knew that our family had been shot at close range. They had clearly been targeted.” LeBaron said the family and other Mormon clans have long been in the crosshairs of the cartels because they refuse to get out of their way.’
This sentiment is one that directly defies that of Mexican law enforcement and Mexican government, who have previously labeled the attack as a instance of mistaken identity.
The Mexican government claims that the sudden attack on Monday, November 4, was the result of local drug cartel gunmen who mistook the Mormons’ fleet of dark SUV’s for a rival’s gang.
Hector Mendoza, the Army chief of staff, said that the incident involved a faction of the Juarez cartel, La Linea, and their competitors from the Sinaloa Cartel – once controlled by Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman.
Hector Mendoza, the Army chief of staff, says that the two groups had an altercation one day before the massacre in the same area.
In the wake of his family and fellow Mormon’s sudden deaths, LeBaron has taken a stance against the cartels that plague his home and is planning to form armed militias to combat the continual violence.
He has additionally been lobbying in Mexico City and Washington D.C., for stronger law enforcement of the cartels.
LeBaron and other Mormons in the northern Mexico wish to join forces with local authorities in a ‘wild-west style volunteer militias’ that he describes as ‘posses’ that would defend citizens from traffickers.
But to avoid corruption, LeBaron wants the municipal police to be independent of local mayors who have reportedly been bought out by cartels and asked to turn a blind eye to their crimes.
‘The Mexican municipal police are not autonomous in this area. They are under the control of the mayors, who are financed by the cartels,’ LeBaron said.
‘The old ways here have to change. We have 20 neighboring municipalities and no district attorney. We have no independent police, and that has to change,’ he continued.
The attack began when Christina Maria Langford Johnson, 29, was driving in a Chevy Suburban with her seven-month-old daughter, Faith, when the attack took place.
Johnson jumped out of her vehicle in an attempt to get the gunmen to stop, but she was fatally shot in the chest.
She placed baby Faith, who was in a car seat, on the Chevy’s floor before exiting the car, saving the girl’s life.
Another SUV was driven by Dawna Langford, 43, who was also traveling with Langford to a wedding in Chihuahua.
Gunmen killed Langford and two children, 11-year-old Trevor and two-year-old Rogan, while eight other children inside the vehicle were able to hide until it was safe.
Those surviving children, of which five were injured, hid in nearby brush before walking back to their community to get help.
The third mother was Rhonita Miller LeBaron, 30, who was driving a SUV with four of her seven children.
Miller’s Tahoe reportedly suffered a flat tire while the family was on the way to pick her husband up from a Phoenix airport.
Before she could get help their car was caught in a hail of bullets, one of which struck the vehicles gas tank.
Miller and four of her children were incinerated in their SUV after the vehicle exploded into flames.
Not trusting local authorities, LeBaron and his wife drove four hours to Arizona to hand over the evidence they collected to the FBI.
One thing they found was that his daughter had been robbed, LeBaron said.
LeBaron and Shalom found a checkbook and other items from Miller’s purse scattered on the ground near the burnt SUV.
He said it took local authorities 24 hours to arrive to the scene and forensic investigators didn’t appear until 30 hours after the bodies were found.
No police tape was used to rope off the two crime scenes, which were twelve miles apart as hit men hailed bullets on all three SUVs driven by the women.
The Mexican federal government turned down an offer from US officials to help with the case.
‘It’s kind of disturbing that the FBI has had no access to the crime scene, which is probably a disaster already because the Mexicans have allowed families to remove the bodies. Any evidence that could have been gathered is probably destroyed,’ a source told The Post.
An American investigator familiar with the case said: ‘We’ve been saying all along that the Mexican government just doesn’t want to investigate anything related to drug trafficking.’
‘They will go to any extreme to cover everything up. It’s completely corrupt, and it’s only going to get worse.’
LeBaron said: ‘About a week later, they finally let in the FBI, but they could not be armed.’
He says that U.S. investigators were forced to follow Mexican government procedures that prohibits foreign investigators from identifying as US law enforcement.
‘We know that if we want justice, we just have to do it ourselves and I won’t stop until I get it,’ LeBaron said.
He lobbied to US officials in Washington D.C., to recognize the Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations, which would allow authorities to freeze their U.S. assets.
LeBaron’s request caused the family to receive backlash from Mexicans on social media who called them ‘traitors.’
‘They’ve got double nationality so why don’t they return to their country instead of selling us out,’ one such post read.
‘They eat and live in Mexico, steal water from Mexicans and ask Trump to defend them,’ another Twitter post read.
Last month, LeBaron continued his crusade for justice and organized a march against violence in Mexico City.
This latest cartel clash that resulted in the deaths of women and children was the deadliest battle in a war for control of the outback territories in Sonora and Chihuahua states near the United States border.
In this area, criminal cartels reportedly transport drugs over the border.
LeBaron said: ‘The traffickers want to get rid of the gringos. They want to turn our communities into ghost towns.’
But LeBaron and many of the 5,000 members of the Mormon communities stand firm in defiance.
They are United States-Mexican nationals who have lived in the northern part of the country for several generations since the communities were found in 1890.
It came after the U.S. government restricted polygamy and a sect of Mormons moved to Mexico to practice their beliefs in freedom.
In fact, LeBaron has 35 children, 85 grandchildren and at one point reportedly had four wives.
Despite many taking a stand against cartels, some members of the LeBaron family have fled Mexico and moved to the U.S. following the tragic slayings.
On November 9, families went in and out of a gas station in Douglas near the port of entry as the sun began to set as they prepared to move back to the U.S.
Leah Langford-Staddon, a member of the Mormon community, said her family members spent the day packing before desperately preparing for the move.
Bryce Langford, whose mother is Dawna Langford, said the decision to leave was difficult.
‘The assets that they’ve acquired down there are tremendous. And to have to up and leave from one day to the next and leave all that behind, there’s definitely a lot of sad people here,’ he said.
LeBaron’s son-in-law, Howard Miller, has left the country after the massacre with his three surviving children, Tristan, 8, Amaryllis, 5, and Zack, 3.
‘I’m not leaving. I owe it to Rhonita and my grandchildren to stay and fight. If I have to tell their story a million times for the next 20 years in order to live in peace, I will,’ LeBaron said.
LeBaron and others who have lost loved ones because of the massacre continue to push for justice since the victims were buried last month.
In Washington D.C., they sough help from Republican senators Rick Scott and Mike Lee, and Democratic Utah Rep. Ben McAdams to support their push to name cartels terrorist organizations.
President Donald Trump initially supported the move, but later withdrew and said he was holding back at at the request of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Since, LeBaron and others have started a petition to get the designation approved.
Adriana Jones, one of LeBaron’s daughter and Miller’s older sister,’ said she was heartbroken.
‘The amount of people in that [Mexico City] march that came up to me and told me that their family members were also murdered, begging us to be their voice, telling us nobody would listen to them just broke my heart,’ she said.
The New York Post reports that there were 33,341 homicide investigations in Mexico in 2018 with many of them related to drug cartels.
However, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has advocated ‘hugs not bullets’ and has not taken a stance against the criminal gangs.
This month, Mexican law enforcement announced that three suspects have been arrested in the case, but no other details have been publicly disclosed.
The Mazatlan Post